July 30, 2015 / 12:03 PM / 5 years ago

Tesco bins 'Unexpected item in bagging area' after Britons' blood boils

Shopping trolleys are seen at a Tesco supermarket in central London, December 9, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Tesco will drop “Unexpected item in bagging area” and other phrases from its self-service check-outs after shoppers told Britain’s top supermarket they found the messages “shouty” and “irritating”.

Tesco introduced self-service in 2003 and now has more than 12,000 of the machines handling millions of purchases a day.

They emit the unpopular “Unexpected item” phrase in a female voice followed by “Remove this item before continuing” when they do not recognise an object.

Customers simply trying to buy a sandwich or a bottle of milk complained about the process, which halts the sale and forces them to wait as a Tesco employee manually overrides the frozen computer.

“It’s listened to by millions of customers every week, so we’ve acted on customer and colleague feedback and worked hard to get the new voice right,” said James Dewen, Tesco’s self-service checkout operations manager.

The company said it is switching to a male voice which will ask shoppers to “Please check your packing area” and then say “This can now be placed in your bag”.

The company said the new voice is “friendlier” and will add “Thank you for shopping at Tesco”.

“The new voice has already been installed in a small number of stores ...It will be introduced in all of Tesco’s UK stores by the end of October,” it said.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Jason Neely

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